Candy Crush Saga has become a household name, soaring to the top of the download charts and holding a dominant position for months at a time.
It is impossible to sit on any form of public transportation and not see someone with their eyes glued to their smartphone or tablet playing the viral game. King, the game’s developer and distributer, boasts around 30 billion plays across all of their apps, but Crush is by far their biggest hit, with around 92 million active players at any given moment.
The game itself is simple, and the general concept is nothing new. Many new users remark that it is very similar to the classic video game Bejeweled, as the mission is simply to match up different symbols to create groups. Unlike Bejewled, however, the game gets more complicated as users progress through its stages. In some levels, the goal is simply to gain a certain amount of points, but in other levels, users are faced with “ingredients” that they must move to the bottom of their screen. Other levels ask players to “clear all of the jelly,” meaning that they need to match the different colored symbols (or candies) to burst a barrier and clear the screen of the squares that impede progress. Although these levels may seem easy, some are quite complicated, and to make things more difficult, a number of levels include timers, forcing players to complete the levels as quickly as possible. If a user fails to complete a level in time, they will lose a life and are forced to restart.
Although there is a limit of 5 lives per game, a life is regained every 30 minutes until the maximum is reached again. If players grow impatient, they can purchase more lives, along with a number of other optional purchases, from the in-app store, where King makes the vast majority of their profits. The game itself is free, but in-store purchases from frustrated users have allowed the company to collect over $600,000 per day in revenue. This business model has proved to be extremely effective, as users continue to flock to Saga and purchase additional lives. Although some of the craze surrounding the game seems to be dying down, King has recently launched a series of ad campaigns, bringing great results for the company in international markets and sustaining the application’s record-setting numbers.
Part of Candy Crush Saga’s huge success is tied to the social aspect of the game. Through Facebook integration, users can share extra moves and lives with their friends, and a system of tickets is required to advance through the applications various stages. While it is possible to play the game without connecting to Facebook, few do, likely because these tickets are extremely hard to collect without the help of friends and acquaintances. Also contributing to the application’s viral success is its availability on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Market, ensuring that nearly every smartphone and tablet user can download the popular game, while users without such devices are also able to play on their computers through Facebook or King’s website.